Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Simmons: First T20 century special

...but focused on IPL playoffs

 \\\\\ MOHALI

Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies batsman Lendl Simmons has described as “special” his maiden Twenty20 century in the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Wednesday, but says he is still hoping Mumbai Indians can reach the playoffs.

The right-hander stroked an even, unbeaten century to help drive Mumbai Indians to an enterprising seven-wicket victory at Punjab Cricket Association Stadium.

“This hundred is very special. I am just grateful for the chance to play in the IPL after not being picked up in the auction,” Simmons said.

“In my first game, I scored 38 and then have built on that. This is a great feeling, scoring the first century of this IPL season and my first century in a long time.”

He added: “It was a very good moment for me. I felt very excited getting the call from Mumbai to come represent them in the IPL. It is a good feeling. I would like to thank Mumbai for giving me a chance to come and play for them.”

Simmons faced 61 balls and cracked 14 fours and two sixes to lay the foundation for Mumbai’s successful run chase, as they overhauled 156 to win easily.

The knock followed one of 62 against Rajasthan Royals in his last game on Monday and 68 nearly two weeks ago against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Simmons has 280 runs from five matches, at an average of 70.

Simmons said he was pleased he had cashed in on a pitch that was good for stroke play.

“Before we came here they said it would be a good track to bat on so I backed myself when I went out to bat to come good.”

 Simmons dominated a 68-run opening stand off 42 balls with Australian Mike Hussey, who managed just six from 13 deliveries. However, Simmons said his opening partner had played a crucial role in his innings.

“He’s a very cool guy, very relaxed and doesn’t get flustered at all. He’s very down to earth and he keeps talking to you while batting, which is very good,” Simmons said.

“He helped me a lot…during my first 50 runs, walking up to me every now and then and giving me confidence. He is very good to bat with and great to have around in the team.”

The victory left Mumbai sixth in the standings on ten points with two preliminary round matches remaining, and only an outside chance of reaching the playoffs.

And Simmons says that while the century was important, it would have greater value if Mumbai qualified for the next stage of the competition.

“It is satisfying, but I’ll be more satisfied with this knock if it helps us make the playoffs,” he noted. “If we get there, I’ll be able to look back at this knock and say, ‘yes, I had a big impact on us getting into the top four’.”                                         —CMC